Thursday, December 31, 2009

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY! Hurry - less than 12 hours to get in!

I've got three copies of Dane Sanders Fast Track Photographer ebooks to give away

How to win your copy? Tell me why you want it and leave your email address in the comments below. You only have the next 12 hours to enter so don't put it off!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thank You for your Comments for Christmas

I want to thank all of you who took the time to pop up a comment on my blog over the past couple of months. You helped generate an additional $104 that I will donating to Women's Refuge - a service in Perth that helps women & children escape from abusive & dangerous situations and gives them support to create a new positive life. It's not a huge amount, but it's something and every little bit helps!

I received a ton of emails and instant messages about my Comments for Christmas, but alas they didn't count in the overall tally. I did appreciate the support and was so happy to hear how many of you were making the holidays brighter for others, too. So cool to know there are lots of people out there passing on good fortune in so many ways!

So, again, thank you all for your support and I hope to see you (and more!) throughout the year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A hard Christmas

Hubby & I are on our own this holiday season so everything is very low key celebration-wise. Yesterday we took the boat out for a little diving & fishing and a whole lotta relaxing. It was picture perfect with brilliant blue skies, calm clear water, not too hot temperatures with the slightest hint of a breeze. We had our own private deserted island and didn't even see another boat or person while we were out. Dave cooked a sausage BBQ lunch for us after our dive and then we just cruised around enjoying the day and being with each other with no demands on our time. Can't beat it, really.

I dropped in for my first dive in months and it felt awesome to swim with the fishes again. I didn't take many photos, but saw some very cute fishies

and some Christmas Trees (worms).

Hope your day was warm and happy, too!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from our Family to yours!

Our kitties - Harry, Lobo & Boof - along with our puppies - MatildaLily & Dora - wanted to do something special to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you so here they are in their fabulous festive hats & happy holiday faces!

We hope that you are having a most joyous celebration with your friends & family!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas lights - Spirit Lake, Iowa

Only 18 more hours until it's Christmas Day! And that means only 18 hours to add your comments & encourage everyone you know to add their comments to my blog to raise some money for those in need. Yes, this is a shameless post, but it's for a good cause! Remember, too, that I'm now donating $2 for each of your comments instead of the original $1 - woohooo!

Just think how easy it is to spread a little Christmas cheer - all you need to do is take 30 seconds to jot a note on any of the posts here from October through to today's. Simple. Charitable. Be Merry. Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas decoratin' - Spirit Lake, Iowa

Thankfully, my step-mom is WAY better organized than I am so I did get to see a beautifully decorated tree this year :)

She and my Dad have an excellent collection of cool Christmas ornaments. Lots of alligators from when her daughter's family lived in New Orleans

And, of course, nifty airplanes coz my Dad's a pilot and even built his own plane a few years back. Check out Santa chauffeuring the reindeer!

Dave and I have our own Christmas tree up and I finally sorted out the ornaments we do have, but we're having a little Christmas light problem so we haven't gotten much further yet. We're resigned to the idea that maybe we'll be ready for Xmas 2010 LOL

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Queen II - Lake Okoboji, Iowa

It was a frigid, blustery, crisp blue day after the night the lake froze (more or less) this year. Dad and I were driving through Okoboji and noticed that the Queen II wasn't over by Parks Marina so cruised into Arnold's Park to see if she was still at the dock. Sure enough, there was she was. Locked in by ice.

I was much toastier taking photographs of the Queen II ornament on the Christmas tree at the lake house!

Monday, December 21, 2009

R.I.P. Patches aka Kitteh

I got some sad news yesterday.  The beautiful black & white kitten that popped into the dive shop in September had to be euthanized a couple of weeks ago.  He had four fused vertebrae that were causing him daily pain (and a heart murmur, and blind in one eye...poor little tuckka had multiple problems) and there was nothing that could be done to improve his quality of life. It was a heart-wrenching decision for his family.

Goodbye, Little One. No kitten was ever given as much love and cuddles from two families. You brought pure joy to all of our lives and it was a blessing to have you.

If you missed the story or just want a walk down memory lane
Agonizing over our choices
Decision Kitteh 2009
So much happiness!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meghan: Senior Portraits - Okoboji & Milford, Iowa

I had an awesome time with Meghan cruising around the Iowa Lakes Area for her senior portraits. Spirit Lake, Okoboji & Milford all offer such great locations - even on a cold and blustery late autumn day!

Meghan was incredible to work with: so gorgeous, up for anything, full of great ideas and super happy & outgoing. I love her! She was a trooper out on the soccer field in her prom dress with the biting cold wind, thankfully the other locations we hit were more protected and much warmer!

Despite the breeze & chill, a gear casualty (said wind tossed my lightstand & flash into a ditch), my hands freezing so bad that I dropped my camera (thank goodness for neck straps!) and a very close call of me tumbling off the steps & over the wall at the church, we had a great time & got some fabulous shots.

I love a little attitude!

Meghan rocks the soccer field so of course we had to have one with her cool red soccer ball.

Meghan's very cool new car...I kinda felt bad as I got to drive it before she did!

Her gorgeous dog was SO VERY EXCITED to be heading out with us it was a real challenge to get her to calm down enough to pose. And, yes, I fell in love with her, too!

Thanks, Meghan, for a great time!

I will be offering more senior portrait sessions in the fall of 2010 for the Iowa Great Lakes Area (Spirit Lake, Milford, Okoboji, Lake Park, Estherville & surrounds) so if you'd like to know more, drop me an email for all the info. I only have a few dates left, so it's never too early to book!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Spirit, Kitty style

Boof's not convinced about the whole Holly Jolly business

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beachtime in Exmouth

I am back home in Exmouth after a terrific holiday to spend time with my family back in the United States.  I've got photography related posts coming up as soon as I get back into the swing of things, but for now here's two from my first beach walk.

My girl Dora found some very appealing (to doggies at least) bone-type morsel and wouldn't let Tilly or me close to it. I tried to capture a photo but she kept turning her head away. I guess if I can't truly see that she has something she's not supposed to have, I won't take it away, right?

And a little crab cruising along one of the sand flats

I miss my family, but I'm not so much missing the subzero temperatures and icky weather so far!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Toys for Tots - Holiday Happy!

Toys for Tots is a donation program run by firefighters across the United States (there is also a Toys for Tots program run by the US Marines).  Each year they set up drop off stations so you can donate new toys for needy kids.  It's an awesome program and so very easy - check with you local fire department, Google or check your local paper for toy collection areas near you!

This year I was privileged to be able to donate toys in both California and Iowa. Honestly, I haven't had this much fun shopping in a long time - just thinking about the kiddos getting a little something unexpected puts a huge grin on my face (even though the gorilla stuffed toy was almost too irresistible to give away!)
Me & my mom giving a "test" snuggle before donating

There are tons of places, programs and ways that you can get involved and share a little of your good fortune with others over the holiday season. You don't have to be in the US, either, Australia, England, Canada and pretty much every other country have similar projects. It doesn't take much, even the smallest things are appreciated and I promise you the warm fuzzy feeling is amazing!

I want to give a big KUDOS to Target. Not only do they have some super cuddly soft stuffed animals for great prices ($4 and up - they are awesome!) but they went the extra mile for me. I took some bags of toys in to the Toys for Tots drop off and didn't check the bags carefully enough and ended up donating something that was actually meant to be a present for someone else. I went back to Target to buy another one the next day, but the price had gone up. I told the cashier what had happened and he very kindly gave me the lower price on that item - no fuss and with a big smile on his face. Well done!

So, I'm not gonna preach at you, but really, can't you spare a few minutes of your time and $5 to put a big happy grin on some kid's face this year? Go on, try it - you'll love it!

Oh, and don't forget to add your comments here on the blog to this post or anything else you see from October to December coz I'm donating more each time you comment - spread the word, spread the joy!

Happy happy holidays, Everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spirit Lake, Iowa - My Dad

Random shot of my Dad in the bobcat after clearing out more snow - no real reason for the photo, I just love him.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Spirit Lake, Iowa - Winter Wonderland

Last night we arrived at the lake house amid a flutter of snowflakes that were steadily getting thicker.

This morning: -39F (which, strangely, is -39.4C, too) wind chill, snowing, blowing and generally unfit for humans.  This was the visibility as we headed out of the driveway

This was some unfortunate soul who didn't realise that there was a big snowdrift blocking one whole lane. He made it surprisingly far into and high onto the drift, though! The top left & bottom right show him stuck in/on the drift while another car happily cruises by in the cleared lane.

By the time we got back to the house, the visibility had improved, the wind had dropped to 25-30mph and the snow was slacking off. So glad I don't have to deal with snow drifts blocking my doors back in Exmouth!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spirit Lake, Iowa - cool green grass

Thanksgiving Day was beautiful & sunny but deceptively brisk.  There was enough wind to create some good waves which then immediately froze against everything along the shoreline. Hubby went out first while I stayed nice and warm in the house looking down from the living room windows. The icicles he found on the dock planks were worth him getting chilly, I think!

Later I had to wander down with a new toy to have a play capturing all the frozen beauty, too. I love the red chaise lounge with the icicles dangling!

Thanks to a crazy amount of rain in October, all of the yards were still green to the end of November. Some of the fallen leaves and blades of grass were pretty cool (har de har har) encased in their ice cocoons.

My favourite of the day...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Spirit Lake, Iowa - sunset photograph

I'm blessed to live in Exmouth, Western Australia, where I am treated to amazing sunrises & sunsets almost every day.

But my heart belongs to Big Spirit Lake in Iowa where I grew up. I still think we get the best sunsets anywhere here. This was just a couple of evenings ago.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

I woke up this morning to find everything covered in white and so far the temperature has climbed to a fabulous -4C (25F) long as you are out of the wind. It's still snowing with big, fluffy white flakes.

Absolutely gorgeous as it covers things - until the first car drives through, the first plow dumps sand & salt on the roads or it starts to melt into a lovely grey slushy mud!

My friends in Exmouth are telling me it's 44C (112F) there.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have been terrible about popping posts up this month, haven't I? My only excuse is that I'm overseas visiting family and don't have the best internet connection in the world so have gotten a little lazy about making the effort. I do have things to post and I will try to get better over the next couple of weeks!

Yesterday in the US (where I am) was Thanksgiving Day. A day for family, food, laziness and dragging out the Christmas decorations. We had a small family dinner complete with a not-so-small variety of scrumptious food - happily we love leftovers!

My bad blogging has put my goals a little behind on my Comments for Christmas donation drive so I'm changing the rules and donating TWO dollars for every comment you leave here on my blog in October, November and December. So don't be shy - check out the past posts & add a comment and don't forget to keep stopping back! We can make the holiday season a little brighter for some folks who need a little boost of the Christmas Spirit!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy feet

Summer skies & a new pair of pink Steve Madden's.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Off to the U.S.A!

One week to go before my hubby and I are off to see my family back in the United States and I can't wait!  It's been almost three years since Dave has seen the fam' - the last time was waaay back in early January 2007 when we had our Cozumel wedding!

We're going to spend some time in the Bay Area/San Francisco with my mom before heading back to Iowa/Minnesota to hang with my dad & catch up with the rest of the family. Happily, Mom is also flying back to the Midwest for Thanksgiving week, so we're going to have lots of time with everyone this trip.

My family - Mom, Seestar Cat & hubby Mike, my Gma, my Step-Mom Patt & Dad, Dad

I will also be working while I'm there. I have a photo session in Los Angeles with the fabulous Dion Family that I'm really looking forward to. I have some Senior Portrait sessions in Iowa.

I currently have very limited sessions still available in the IA/MN/SD area in November so if you're thinking about it, now is the time to make your appointment! I'm offering a wide variety of portrait sessions - baby, family, senior - but I won't be doing any weddings on this trip. I may offer weddings in 2010 so please check with me if you're interested!

Email me or fill in my contact form and we'll arrange a great session together!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Exmouth wedding sneak peek - Barbara & Colin

Barbara & Colin got a pretty nice post-sunset sky after their beach wedding at the Novotel Ningaloo here in Exmouth.

Stay tuned for more coming soon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Exmouth Novotel Ningaloo wedding - Sandy & Terry 18 Oct 2009

Sandy & Terry first met here in Exmouth back in the early 1970s so decided to hold their wedding with a few close friends and their treasured family overlooking Exmouth Gulf. They were given one of those magical Exmouth days where the breeze is just right, the late afternoon sun shines saturated ruby-gold goodness and the evening stills to a perfect temperature for celebrating against a sky that can't make up it's mind what colour to be. You saw the moment before their first kiss as husband and wife in the sneak peek; please enjoy the rest of their wedding.

It took a few people to master the lock on Sandy's bracelet

I was warned that the six year old grandson hated having his picture taken and the warning was no exaggeration! I went into stealth mode but got busted

Sandy's 7 grand-daughters walked before her

Her uncle walked her down the aisle

They are one super affectionate, romantic couple!

Terry was a sport with the pink umbrella

The sky was an amazing purple and gold as we finished our photos and they walked to the reception

As I was packing up I noticed the grand-daughters had left their fans, parasols and baskets behind by the pool and the sky changed one more time

Huge congratulations to you guys - I know you're going to have a life filled with laughter, love & romance!